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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

Newsletter No. 99 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - November 2000


THE SADNESS OF POLITICAL CHOICE

It’s election time, both here and south of the border. In the USA, there’s been a torrent of energetic debate between the Gore and Nader camps; so why do I feel such a yawn about it all here in Canada?

Before democracy, politics was always oppressive and often violent. Democracy is a brilliant invention. It has replaced civil war as a strategy for change, and we should treasure it as an institution.

In this election, however, the choice for Canada appears to be between a middle-of-the-road party (the Liberals) whose environmental record has been abysmal (http://web1.liberal.ca), and a new party dominated by elderly white males (the Alliance), who seemingly just want lower taxes so that they can buy larger houses and bigger RVs, and whose policy platform does not contain a single clause about climate change or the environment. (www.canadianalliance.ca)

So why am I not excited by the New Democrats, or the Green Party (of which I am a member)? It seems like a shameful thing to admit.

The Green Party (www.green.ca) has all the right ideas, but it is seemingly locked into fringe party status. There are many Green Parties in the world, and in countries which use a proportional representation system of voting, such as France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and New Zealand, they have become well established. If you win 8% of the vote, you win 8% of the seats, which seems a fair way to run a democracy. Under the old-fashioned "first past the post" system which is still used in Canada, Britain and the USA, a party can win 45% of the vote, giving them 75% of the seats, and declare to the world that it has won the "resounding support of the people".

So what of the New Democrats? (www.ndp.ca) Why does their platform of increased spending for health-care, education and jobs not inspire me? Maybe because it feels so much like a good 1960s platform, seeking to spread the wealth around so that working people can enjoy the good life too. There appears to be no recognition that as a society, our very concept of wealth is destroying our planet’s ecosystems. Hello?

Paradoxically, it is the Canadian Alliance which has made the commitment to look at proportional representation as a more democratic system of voting, through a national referendum. On the provincial level in British Columbia, it is the Liberal Party, not the NDP, which has made a similar commitment. Politics certainly moves in mysterious ways.

In its heyday, the NDP was a voice of vision for ordinary working people who wanted a more just society and a share in Canada’s prosperity. Today, it is this very wealth, and the vision of the consumer "good life" that is being pushed by corporations and supported by parties such as the Alliance, the Liberals and the NDP, which poses the biggest threat of all. Do we have to wait until the Arctic has melted and the polar bears are extinct before we realize the folly of the path we are on? Maybe the NDP needs to melt down, so that the NDP and the Greens can re-emerge in a re-invigorated political force, much as the Alliance has done, capturing an exciting vision for the 21st century, beyond consumerism, beyond material wealth.

We need a vision and a set of policies to phase out the use of fossil fuels within 25 years, and usher in a solar/hydrogen economy;

We need goals and policies for a percentage of Canada’s farms to become organic and a percentage of Canada’s forests to be eco-certified by a certain date.

We need a national policy to reward worksharing and a four-day week, so that families have a chance to catch their breath, and children feel less abandoned.

We need legislation and policies that will encourage every business and every corporation to become ecologically responsible and ethically moral, and send corporate leaders to jail if they abuse our trust.

We need a way to finance election campaigns which eliminates corporate donations, and prevents our politicians and parties from being corrupted by the people they wine and dine with.

Somewhere, in the limbering mists of future dreams and unborn souls, there are solutions to this dilemma, and leaders who will emerge to articulate it. Maybe they are us; maybe they are you. Whoever or whatever they are, we need them urgently.

Guy Dauncey


Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


ECONEWS

Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)

Sept Oct Nov
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Many thanks to the Council of Canadians (Cowichan Valley), Susan Martin, Phil Marchant, Ray Zimmerman, Karen Skowron, Peter Schofield, Benita Blundell, Nancy Boorman, Bill Wilson, Marya Nyland, Peter Spurr, Jim Hackler, Ruth Masters, Mel Moilliet, Muriel Park, Michael Bonnor, Gail Schacter, Roger Colwill, Victoria Natural History Society, Brian Grant, Bonnie Oldershaw & Gary Greenstein.

Donations can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V9E 2B9. For a receipt, send stamped addressed envelope.


THE ECO-CORNER

$5 line (free to non-profits, low-income). 1" box ad $30, $2" $55.

* For rent – delightful, furnished, 2BR duplex in 1912 building, near Crystal Pool. Dec 1st – April 1st. $900 pm, incl utilities. Bill or Jackie 361-9446.

* Betty Krawczyk, inmate number 03793924, is serving one year for defending the Elaho ancient rainforest. We’re sure she’d like a letter! Burnaby Correctional Center for Women, 7900 Fraser Park Dr. Burnaby, BC, V5J 5H1. Barney Kern is another Elaho defender also serving a 1 year term: New Haven Correctional Centre, 4250 Marine Drive Burnaby, BC V5J 3E9.

* To Doug Koch, who is stepping down after 11 years service as the voluntary coordinator of Victoria’s April EarthWeek, a big THANKYOU. So here’s an opportunity. Does the possibility of helping organize an annual Earth, peace and human rights jiggermaroo tickle your spirit? Call Doug at 383-5765 to talk it over.

* Fancy working evenings, 5-9pm, inviting people to join the Western Canada Wilderness Committee? Good canvassers can earn between $50 to $100 per night. Call Lisa, WCWC, 388-9292. www.wildernesscommittee.org

* For Sale – My Apple LC 475 computer, complete with quality GCC laser printer and software; used reliably for several years. $750 or best offer – call Guy Dauncey, 881-1304.

LET’S SWIM!

In Biberstein, Switzerland, they’ve opened an organic public swimming pool. No chlorine, no bright blue tiles, just wonderful, clear, clean water. With dragonflies playing in the reeds, water lilies, snails and frogs, nature has come back full force. The old pool was 25 by 12 metres, so two new ponds (same size) were added to purify the water. (Le Temps, thanks to Andrea Tischausser)

LET’S LEARN!

It is partially powered by solar and wind energy, and warmed by geothermal heat. It has a five-acre natural wetland, waterless urinals, and an underground stormwater collection and reuse system that will save 144,000 gallons a year. What is it? It’s Millennium Elementary school, in Kent, Washington. Costs for most of the eco-features were higher, but officials expect savings in the long run. (From www.greendesign.net/greenclips)

LET’S DRIVE!

It’s a zero-emissions car which will travel up to 200 km for 45 cents – but it’s not powered by gas or hydrogen. Its owners say "It’s an anti-globalization production idea…which will be ideal for urban transport", and they are planning factories in France, South Africa, Mexico, Spain and Australia. The ‘e.Volution’ runs on compressed air, charged up electrically and stored under the car. Its designer, Guy Negre, is a former French formula one engineer who spent years searching for an alternative to gas-powered vehicles, and patented the results. Zero Pollution Motors bought the rights, and the first vehicles will be for sale in early 2002. To be totally free of emissions, of course, the electricity must also come from a renewable source. www.zeropollution.com

LET’S RESPECT!

For those who eat meat…..In Britain, six supermarket chains (including Safeway) are carrying "Freedom Food", certifying that their meat comes from animals which have known freedom from fear and distress; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; and the freedom to express normal animal behaviour. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the government’s Farm Animal Welfare Council worked together to develop the scheme. (With thanks to Andy Shadrack).

LET’S FLY!

DaimlerChrysler Aerospace Airbus is working on a hydrogen fueled passenger aircraft, the Cryoplane, hoping to start series production within 10 years.

FOR NANCY

From Eric Bonham’s tribute to Nancy McMinn, who died on October 13th: Gandhi once observed: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." This is a fitting tribute to Nancy, whose life we celebrate today. Like Gandhi, Nancy walked her talk. She was a remarkably influential yet unassuming leader who lived in our midst, and yet throughout, she was true to herself. Her sincere interest in people, her deep love for the outdoors, nature and music, and her enquiring mind that consistently thought outside the box made her a delightfully interesting friend.

Nancy was both a pragmatist and a visionary. We have only to think of the many initiatives that have occurred in our community during her watch, such as her interest with her husband Bob and others in founding the Highlands Ratepayers Association and the Highlands Community Association, forerunners to the District of Highlands; and the many events held in the Caleb Pike Homestead - craft fairs, Halloween nights, folk nights, summer fairs and picnics, market days, Easter egg hunts, road clean ups - the list is endless, like the many committees she served on. Nancy would contribute to each in her own inimitable style, adding her homespun touch, weaving a heart-warming welcome into every event, quietly inspiring others to follow suit.

Her love for nature was a legend. It was my privilege to work with Nancy and friends in the Gowlland Foundation on the preservation of the Gowlland Range. Her involvement was nothing short of inspirational. There were times when the creation of a provincial park seemed unlikely, but her deep trust in the Universe to provide the skills and the right people in the right place at the right time was consistent, and proved to be correct. Although we all had our peaks and valleys, the Gowlland Foundation performed as a team working relentlessly towards a vision that was greater than the sum of its parts. It was truly a lesson in trust, cooperation, compassion, respect and teamwork; and central to it all was Nancy. She was a problem-solver extraordinaire. She believed that problems or conflict could not be solved with the head alone, but through a combination of head and heart. For Nancy, conflict resolution began with a deep respect for those who may hold a different viewpoint

While Nancy experienced times of doubt, fear and resistance to change, they never lasted long, for the spiritual side of her nature was so balanced that it carried her forward to the next set of challenges with renewed strength. There is an old saying that three things in human life are important: to be kind, to be kind, and to be kind. Nancy McMinn lived her life by such a creed.

The on-going spirit of Nancy McMinn is as natural as the trees, rocky bluffs, hills and lakes of the Highlands she loved. Your spirit lives on, Nancy. Your star still shines brightly in the Highlands night sky. Thank you for being you. While this is goodbye for now my friend, it is certainly not farewell.

VIVA SANTA GREEN CUISINA!

The Vancouver Island Vegetarian Association (VIVA) and EarthSave Victoria have teamed up with the Young Parent Support Network to provide mostly organic vegetarian Christmas Hampers to young local vegetarian families in need. Can you help? Non-perishables may be donated at Green Cuisine, Market Square, 385-1809. Green Cuisine Restaurant is contributing 50% of all sales on November 11th to purchase perishable items for the hampers just prior to delivery.

VIVA NON-GENETICA!

November in Vancouver means all hands to the pump to put out the fire of GE food that’s burning up food purity, as bigwigs from around the world come to Vancouver to attend the Pacific Rim Biotech Industry Conference. Have no fear! On Friday Nov 10th, there’s an all-day Teach-In called Big Money, Bad Science - a Citizen’s Response to Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering, at the Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville Street, ending with a Public Forum with David Suzuki, Maude Barlow, Mae-Wan Ho and Ann Clark. Gene Action is organising buses that will leave Victoria on Friday at 6:00am (meet 5:30am) either from UVic or Downtown, returning Saturday and/or Sunday, depending if people want to stay for the demonstrations. To book a place on the bus ($20), call 472-4558; for overnight billeting in Vancouver, call Kelly Bogh 472-3597.

RE-INVENTING THE WORLD

"ReInventing the World" is a new TV documentary mini-series made by Victoria's Asterisk Productions. Hosted by Des Kennedy, Denman Island's premier writer and gardener, the programs look at work and time, food, cities, and then economics, asking how they affect us, who is rethinking things, and what the creative solutions are. Each 50-minute program has a segment filmed in Brazil, where there are some wonderfully innovative programs on the go. "ReInventing the World" will be broadcast on Vision TV in April, and there is a special screening at UVic on Tuesday Nov 21st (see diary), followed by a panel discussion. For details call Asterisk, 480-5256. www.asterisk.bc.ca

ON SEWAGE AND GREYWATER

It’s such a charming topic – but if you met Joan van der Goes, you’d surely agree. Joan is 81 years old, and lives in Cedar, outside Nanaimo. Five years ago, she installed a state-of-the-art Clivus Multrum composting toilet (no approval problems), and a wonderful outdoor greywater treatment system to treat the remaining household wastewater (no approvals – period!). Her greywater system consists of a raised box, 4 feet high, 5 feet wide, and 20 feet long which grows non-edible herbs and other plants. Starting from the bottom, it is filled with rocks, coarse sand, fine sand and then topsoil, separated by nylon membranes. The greywater flows into a distributive pipe system six inches below the surface, is filtered through the box, and exits with less than 16 total coliforms per 100 mg. She saves 40% of her water, and the system cost 20% less than a standard septic tank. The local bureaucrats have refused even to look at her system, but she may now be en route to approval as an ‘innovative policy’ option. Joan’s a beacon of light; she’ll be speaking on her experiences at the Compost Education Centre on Wed Nov 8th – see diary.

Joan’s not the only one to run into obdurate officials and engineers. In North Saanich, where there is a problem with faulty septic fields polluting Saanich Inlet, civic engineers have been trying to force a full-scale treatment plant onto the reluctant residents. The residents are proposing a Peatland Sewage Treatment System, which pipes the run-off from the existing septic tanks into an underground constructed peat wetland where nature treats it with no insects, no smell and no chemicals. The hope is that North Saanich will take the time to research it. For the full details, see www.members.home.net/hermessenger/peatland.html

ACTION OF THE MONTH

DECISION-TIME FOR TRANSIT

A city that does not develop its transit faces decay by smog, stress, road-rage and gridlock. The Victoria Regional Transit Commission wants your views on our transit service. Right now, transit carries 65,000 passengers a day, 14% of the city’s commuter trips. It costs $53 million a year: passenger revenue 39%; provincial grant 32%; property tax 11%; gas tax 16%; advertising 2%. A local gas tax was introduced in 1993 at 1.5 cents/litre, raised to 2.5 cents in 1997.

EcoNews’ view is that transit should grow into a fast, attractive service serving 75% of the population on a regular basis, reducing traffic and allowing roads to be narrowed to make room for bicycle paths, as we move towards a future free of pollution. When Hasselt, Belgium (68,000 residents, 200,000 commuters) was short of funds and losing people, the town abandoned its plans to build a third ring road, closed one of two existing ring roads and planted trees in its place, laid more pedestrian walkways and cycle routes, increased the frequency and quality of transit, and made it free. Transit use increased by 800% and business flourished, resulting in fewer accidents and more social activity. The mayor slashed taxes, and the town is now gaining new residents, not losing them.

1. Which service option should the Transit Commission follow?

a. No growth. No new buses or routes. Cost: + $10.5 million per year to maintain today’s level of service

b. Population-based increase. Slight expansion, keeping up with population growth. Cost: + $14 million pa

c. Expand and improve. Increase transit 18.4% faster than population. More buses, new routes, faster and more frequent service. Cost +$17.9 million pa

2. Which revenue option should the Transit Commission follow?

a Increase fares, hold local taxes constant

b Increase local taxes, hold fares constant

c Increase both fares and local taxes.

3. Which local tax option should be pursued?

a. Increase gas tax only?

b. Increase property tax only?

c. Increase both?

Mail your views to the Transit Commission, 520 Gorge Rd East, Victoria V8W 2P3. Fax 995-5639. Email to survey@bctransit.com


Deadline for December 2000: November 24th


The Green Diary has moved!  Click HERE to see whats happening!

 


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

Now Available!
'Earthfuture : Stories from a Sustainable World'
(New Society Publishers, November 1999)
An ecofictional novel

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